Launceston bullied up front to lose tight game in Liskeard
Tom Lowe produces dazzling breaks to counter Liskeard muscle and Kieran Bainbridge has an scoring excellent debut to put down a marker
Launceston travelled to Liskeard for a game that always promised to be difficult. Previous encounters had been and feisty this had the all the ingredients for another potential standoff. There had been rain over night but the weather was good for running rugby.
Liskeard started well with their big grumpy forwards driving well and pushing deep into the Launceston half. They recycled well and took advantage of a lack of All Black intensity at the breakdown. As is so often, Launceston had warmed up well but just couldn't find their feet in the early stages of the game. They were standing off rucks, decision making was slow and the intensity just wasn't there.
Liskeard drove well creating good momentum and were only denied a score with Tom Lowe and George Mill holding the ball up over the line. Launceston couldn't get out of their own 22 and Liskeard went close again by using their driving maul and strong scrum to great effect. The All blacks just didn't respond quick enough and struggled to contain them. The Liskeard tactics were simple and effective.
However, at the first turnover Launceston took their opportunity with Ben Webb breaking up field on the right with a determined run. He linked well with Tom Lowe (coaches man of the match) but the support failed to materialise to create a score. The Liskeard forwards reasserted themselves and using their driving maul created more pressure and scored on the left. 7-0
Kieran Bainbridge, making his first start, made a big impact. He tackled well and carried with real intent. Dylan Doherty is also really becoming a great ball carrier and is difficult to pull down. He made one fantastic break up field smashing through several tackles only to be pinged for leading with a forearm. The backrow is being fiercely contested this year with several regulars and some new additions trying to force their way in. However, Freddie Ward is a perennial feature and never has a bad game. Whether going forwards or in defence, he is so quick to pounce on mistakes or find a gap.
However, collectively the forwards were bullied in the early stages and another driving maul from a lineout on the left saw Liskeard extend their lead. 12-0
Launceston couldn't assert themselves and struggled to find any continuity. Individual moments of brilliance prevented further scores. Ollie Tomkies showing some good footwork and Finley Moses getting more involved combined well in the centre. Another Tom Lowe break with some lovely jinking steps set up a strong position on the left which released Kieran Bainbridge on a great line to score under the posts 12-7
With the momentum starting to change Freddie ward accelerated from the base of a scrum, outflanked the defence and straightened to score under the posts to take the lead. 12-14 Half time
At half time the Launceston boys were positive and felt they could really kick on. However, another liskeard driving maul from a lineout saw them retake the lead. 19-14
The game was now in the balance with the Liskeard bulk against the Launceston support play. Freddie Ward made a great surge on the right releasing Ben Webb on a strong run. He still had a lot to do but he beat 3 or 4 defenders to crash over in the right corner. 19-19
Another Tom Lowe break up field, great footwork and game awareness. finding Ben Webb again to crash through under the posts 19-26
Launceston were in full flow now and finding good momentum. Confidence was high and they really started to open up running from deep in their own half. However the Liskeard centre plucked an interception and turned the tables with a try under the posts. 26-26
Emotions were high and the last 5 minutes were played at high tempo with both teams thinking that they could sneak a final score. The heavy weight Liskeard pack turned the screw and Launceston infringed to prevent a score. Again, the driving maul from the lineout was used and they trundled over in the right hand corner to seal the match. Disappointment for Launceston who had really played the better rugby but had just been bullied up front. A frustrating game in which the home team won my using simple, effective tactics and played to their strength.